The trend for gas and electricity customers to seek better deals by switching provider has eased, with more now looking to reduce their bills by negotiating with their existing provider.
The latest Energy Retail Market Report from the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) found that, in the first quarter of this year, the numbers of electricity customers switching supplier was just 1.2% higher than in the same period in 2015.
When it came to gas customers, there was a 6% increase in those switching to another company.
However, the report found an increasing number of customers were negotiating better terms and prices with their existing suppliers.
“The levels of renegotiation in the domestic electricity and gas markets saw continued growth every month from November 2015, when data was first recorded, until February 2016,” it said. “This peak saw over 17,728 electricity customers and 4,085 gas customers negotiate a better deal with their suppliers, with levels remaining strong in the final month of Q1 2016.”
It said that data complements that which is collected on switching rates, providing a more complete picture of customer engagement levels and evidence of options that are open to customers.
“In an open market in which the CER no longer regulates prices, increasing competition along with falling wholesale prices drove down retail prices for electricity and gas,” it said.
“In this environment, suppliers began to announce improved offers to existing and new customers with significant reductions to standing charges and new discounted plans.”
CER said the largest fall in the standard price in 2016 was SSE Airtricity’s 5% decrease to its standard unit rate and standing charge. Between the first and second quarters of 2016, Electric Ireland reduced its electricity standard unit rate by 6%, while PrePayPower reduced its standard unit rate by 4.1%.
Aoife MacEvilly, CER’s commissioner with responsibility for the retail sector, said: “The recent series of price reductions by a number of suppliers is welcomed although we are still waiting for price announcements from some suppliers.
“Customers should check whether their own supplier has already lowered their prices and if not, remember that there has never been a better time for consumers to benefit from a competitive energy market. Active customers, who are willing to switch or negotiate with their suppliers are benefitting from significant savings through the discounted plans that are being offered in the open market.”
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